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Historical fiction is a good bet in the publishing industry these days having won some of the major literary awards of the past several years. Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, set in 1930s New York; Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin (1930s Canada) and Peter Carey’s The True History of the Kelly Gang (19th century Australia), were the winners of the 2000 and 2001 Booker Prize, respectively.

Also, a growing number of historic novels have become bright stars for publishers over the past few years, and these works have given the field an ever-increasing audience. Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (set in 17th century Delft), Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha (set in early 20th century Japan), Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent (set in Biblical times).

For minorities and women historical fiction helps place them in history, thus reclaiming a past that isn’t readily available in the history books.

Dennis Lehane, The Given Day

Set in Boston at the end of the First World War, The Given Day follows the experiences of a family whose lives mirror the political unrest of an America caught between its well-patterned past and an unpredictable future. Coursing through some of the pivotal events of the time—including the Spanish Influenza pandemic—and culminating in the Boston Police Strike of 1919. A compelling narrative, with richly drawn characters.

Sally Gunning, Bound:

A young indentured servant in pre–Revolutionary War Massachusetts escapes her brutal master and begins a new life on Cape Cod. Life, however, is far from simple, and the ensuing drama forces the young girl to grapple with what it means to pursue personal freedom. What’s more, as she struggles to integrate past and present, the era’s sexual politics and religious and political fervor come alive.

Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project

On March 2, 1908, nineteen-year-old Lazarus Averbuch, a recent Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe to Chicago, knocked on the front door of the house of George Shippy, the chief of Chicago police. When Shippy came to the door, Averbuch offered him what he said was an important letter. Instead of taking the letter, Shippy shot Averbuch twice, killing him. When Shippy released a statement casting Averbuch as a would-be anarchist assassin and agent of foreign political operatives, he all but set off a city and a country already simmering with ethnic and political tensions. A provocative, and entertaining novel.

Colin Sargent, Museum of Human Beings

In 1805, Lewis and Clark embarked on one of the most fantastic journeys in American history. For approximately two years, Sacagawea, traveling with her infant son Jean-Baptiste, endured the harsh challenges of the American wilderness as she led the expedition forward. The novel focuses on Jean-Baptiste and his struggle to find his identity. The boy’s education (sponsored by Clark), his travels with European nobility, and his return to his own roots as a guide and explorer are vividly brought to life.

Kathleen Kent, The Heretic’s Daughter

Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha’s courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.

Source: http://www.steamboatlocal.org/getlit.html

Book Browse lists Museum of Human Beings among “the top 25 recent hardcover books.”

The popular reader site also features a cover of Museum of Human Beings on the front page on their list of “exceptional historical fiction.”

http://www.bookbrowse.com/browse/index.cfm?category_number=60, http://www.bookbrowse.com/browse/index.cfm?category_number=39

Son of Sacagawea–Colin Sargent’s debut novel


By Deborah Murphy, Times Record

PORTLAND — In his debut novel, “Museum of Human Beings,” Colin Sargent tells a compelling story of American identity lost and found through the historical figure of Sacagawea’s son. Sargent, an award-winning publisher, playwright, and poet who lives in Portland, will read from and discuss his book today at 12 p.m. at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath.

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